Mary Hamilton

Today, I’m once again going to talk about someone who we know is Black that some of you may not know about. Her name is Mary Hamilton. Ms. Hamilton is most known for being the plaintiff in Hamilton v. Alabama in which in the Supreme Court ruled that a Black woman was entitled to be addressed using the same honorific previously reserved for white women and that calling a Black person by her or his first name in a legal proceeding was “a form of racial discrimination.” (Sidenote: I’m not the first person to say this, but if the Supreme Court has never had to decide whether you deserve to be treated like a human being, that is the very definition of privilege.) She was also a member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and participated in the Freedom Rides, for which she was arrested in Jackson, Mississippi. While she was incarcerated, Ms. Hamilton was subjected to sexual assault from the police/guards via unnecessary and invasive vaginal exams. Mary Hamilton died on November 13, 2002 after a long battle against ovarian cancer. To learn more about Hamilton v. Alabama and hear Mary Hamilton’s voice, listen to this episode of the “Code Switch” podcast

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